SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth women's soccer team will head to sunny Southern California to open the 2012 season this Friday and Saturday. The Pirates will take on Chapman University on Friday and then visit Cal Lutheran University on Saturday. Both matches will kick off at 7:30 pm under the lights.
Visit the women's soccer schedule for live links of the coverage provided by Chapman. CLU will not have any live coverage of the Saturday night match.
The Pirates: Whitworth is coming off of an 8-6-4 season and a fourth-place finish in the NWC (8-4-4). The Pirates return six starters and are picked to finished third in the 2012 NWC Coaches Poll.
The "G" Women: Seniors Mackenzie Grow and Kelsey Griswold man the midfield for Whitworth again this season. Both were named Second Team All-Northwest Conference in 2011. Grow led the Pirates offensively with four goals and two assists. Griswold was selected as a defender. She was one of only three players to start all 18 matches last fall.
Fresh Face: Whitworth will have a fresh face in goal this season. Taylor Floyd, Andrea Stump and Ashley Rothrock have battled all camp to take over the starting role and according to head coach Jael Hagerott, the competition has made them all stronger. Stump and Rothrock will split time manning the net this weekend.
2012 NWC Poll: Puget Sound, winners of ten straight NWC championships, is once again the favorite heading into this season. The Loggers picked up six first place votes. Linfield, last season's close runner up, was second in the poll with the other three first place votes. Whitworth and Willamette tied for third in the poll. Click here to see the entire poll.
The Opponents: Chapman University is coming off of a 7-8-3 record and its final year as an NCAA Division III Independent. The Panthers will be full members of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference this fall. Senior Aimee Evans had 10 goals and two assists a year ago, while senior Rissa Anderson posted a 1.71 goals against average in the net. Whitworth and Chapman last met in the 2008 season opener and the Pirates came away with a 3-0 win in a match played at Puget Sound in Tacoma.
California Lutheran is a heavy favorite to repeat as SCIAC champions this season. The Regals return nearly all of their starters from a team that went 20-2-1 in 2011. CLU is ranked 16th in the NSCAA Division III women's preseason poll. Leading the way is sophomore forward Taylor Will, who posted 19 goals and eight assists in only 20 matches last year. Junior Kristine Hulse had a strong year of her own with eight goals and eight assists. Whitworth and CLU have not met within the last 12 years in women's soccer.
The Coach: Jael Hagerott, one of the greatest players in Whitworth history, was promoted to head coach in 2011 and posted an 8-6-4 record in her first season leading the Pirates. She is Whitworth's all-time leader in career assists. She was the NWC Offensive Player of the Year in 2004 and an NSCAA Third Team All-American in 2007.